Ballot will include allowing public advisory vote on new rec center next year
By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Daily Leader
The Liberal City Commission passed two resolutions Tuesday evening regarding wording on the ballot concerning the continuation of the one-cent sales tax to be presented to voters in the Nov. 2 election.
Resolution No. 2098 will allow the ballot to inform voters where the funds will be going, if voters ultimately approve the continuation of the tax.
“Shall the levying of a retailers’ sales tax in the City of Liberal, Kansas, be continued in the amount of one percent to be effective Oct.1, 2011, through Sept. 30, 2021, with 60 percent of the proceeds used for streets, drainage and other capital improvements; 15 percent of the proceeds used for economic development; five percent of the proceeds used for crime prevention and drug and alcohol programs; 15 percent of the proceeds used for housing and community development; and five percent of the proceeds used for beautification,” the resolution noted.
Resolution No. 2099 will add assurance on the ballot to voters that they will be given the option to vote in May to determine whether or not a recreation center should be built with one-cent sales tax funds.
“If the electors of the City of Liberal vote to continue to levy a one percent retailers sales tax at the Nov. 2, 2010, election, the governing body of the City of Liberal will call a special advisory election on May 3, 2011, for the purpose of determining whether a recreation center should be built and financed with proceeds from the one percent retailers’ sales tax,” the resolution noted.
City Manager Mark Hall discussed the importance of allowing the voters to express their opinions by way of a special advisory election.
“This has been discussed in the community, and I know that this is something that you feel is a great concern,” Hall said. “This does make a statement by the commission to the voters that if approved, on May 3, 2011, voters will be given the opportunity to vote after staff has developed a cost and concepts for a recreation center for them to vote on it whether they would like the proceeds of the 1-cent sales tax to go to that.
“I have to commend the commission because I know it is a great concern in wanting to hear the voters,” he continued. “I know there is a lot of controversy out there, and I think this is very wise to allow the voters to help with this decision. This is not only a ballot question, this is your promise for the future.”
Commissioner Larry Koochel believed putting the decision to build, or not build, a recreation center with 1-cent sales tax with the voters is the only appropriate way to manage a project of this magnitude.
“I would just like to emphasize that by passing a resolution that if the 1-cent sales tax passes, the only way that the recreation center can be built is if it is approved by a special election – a vote of the people,” Koochel said. “So, this is ensuring the residents of Liberal that this commission cannot build a recreation center unless approved by the voters.”
Both resolutions were ultimately passed by the city commission. The commission, along with the Focus on the Future committee, will begin informing voters of the benefits of the 1-cent sales tax in an effort to continue the tax for another 10 years.